Arctic Yearbook 2014 - Page 230

230 Arctic Yearbook 2014 “politics of the Arctic” was based on the “politics of oil” (as cited in Shadian 2013: 16). In his 1976 address to the Berger Commission, Hopson (1976) noted that the oil industry should support Home Rule: “Our people in Greenland are not being consulted in any meaningful way as their resources are being sold out from under them. Home-rule is the key to an equitable land claims settlement anywhere in the Arctic. It is the heart of the Land Claims Movement.” Indeed, during negotiations of the Home Rule Act of 1979 the issue of subsurface resources was a key source of confrontation between Danish and Greenlandic representatives of the Home Rule Commission. Recognition of land rights gave rise to the issue of allocation and transfer of resource control from Denmark to Greenland. When the Act was finally written the Commission’s representatives arrived at a compromise (Petersen 1995). The Greenlandic people have “fundamental rights in respect of Greenland’s natural resources,” and Government had the right to veto subsurface resource projects deemed incompatible with Greenlandic interests (Greenland Home Rule Act 1978). Greenlandic self-rule has materialized as a course of factors related to decolonization. Dahl (1986) argued that during the 1950s and 1960s decolonization, first implemented by the Danish government, was a product of economic and political factors that served Denmark’s interests. As an aspect of this top down approach Greenland’s colonial status was nullified in 1953, but at the same time colonial practices remained. In practice Danish policy promoted modernization through development. Investment into the production sector encouraged the growth of centralized commercial fishing and the “voluntary” movement of people from remote settlements into towns to promote urbanization (Dahl 1986: 317). At the same time a “small, well educated, nationalist elite” (Dahl 1986: 316) of Greenlanders emerged with aspirations of greater social and economic opportunities (Dahl 1986: 317). However, the continuation of oppressive Danish policy led to increasing radicalization among this group of largely Danish educated elite, buoyed by an unrealized promise that this elite class would be equal with the Danes (Dahl 1986: 316-318). Increasingly politicized by Denmark’s top down approach, these educated elites organized into political parties that were to become the backbone of the self-government movement, which in part was aligned with the global fight to end colonization. In 1975, the Greenlandic Provincial Council unanimously passed a resolution demanding that “the land and its resources belonged to the resident population.” (Dahl 1986: 320). As the Home Rule government came to power in 1979, the political parties that had formed earlier, Siumut and Inuit Ataqatigiit, declared their alliance with the interests of the fisherman, hunters and wage earners, many of whom lived at distances remote from the capital of Nuuk. Promises were broken; but this time the duplicity was internal to Greenland. “Despite explicit promises not to issue oil concessions in Jameson Land, East Greenland, against the will of the local population,” Dahl (1986: 323) says, “the coalition government of Siumut and Inuit Ataqatigiit did so in late 1984.” A political structure dominated by a small group of elite had emerged “creating internal contradictions among people originally in support of common goals” (Dahl 1986: 323). After a decade of gradual devolution of governance and administrative duties such as education, health and the economy, the 2009 Act on Greenland Self-Government devolved additional Dingman